WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) to introduce legislation maximizing air traffic controller hiring with the introduction of the Air Traffic Controllers Hiring Act of 2023.
The legislation would require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct maximum hiring of air traffic controllers (ATC) at the FAA Academy. The maximum hiring of ATCs is equivalent to approximately 1,800 individuals at the academy per year. Additionally, the bill text clarifies that max hiring is subject to the availability of appropriations and does not authorize specific funding levels.
“The FAA must elevate its hiring practices to alleviate the shortfall of air traffic controllers. This legislation will strengthen the pipeline of FAA’s workforce and support the vibrant airline industry so passengers can reliably reach their destinations in a timely manner,” Boozman said.
“Air traffic controllers work around the clock to ensure that America’s aircrafts are taking off and landing safely and on time. At a time when air traffic controller workforce is below national standards, Congress needs to do its part to help alleviate employment shortages and make sure United States aviation operations are living up to America’s gold standard for air travel,” Braun said.
The bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by Senators Roger Marshall (R-KS), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
The Air Traffic Controllers Hiring Act of 2023 is endorsed by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Association of Flight Attendants, Transportation Workers Union, Air Line Pilots Association, Airlines for America, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, International Association of Machinists, the National Business Aviation Association, the National Safety Council and U.S. Travel Association.
“This bipartisan bill, which also was included in the version of FAA reauthorization which has passed through the U.S. House of Representatives, would put us on path to fixing staffing shortages so that we can continue to operate the safest, most efficient aviation system in the world,” said NATCA President Rich Santa.
The FAA must maintain more than 14,000 controllers to meet demand compared to the threshold of 12,000 it is targeting under its current model and the approximately 10,600 controllers that are presently employed according to an FAA working group report.
In June, the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General released a report that found the FAA “has made limited efforts to ensure adequate controller staffing” and determined that 77 percent of critical ATC facilities are staffed below the FAA’s 85 percent threshold.
This summer, the House of Representatives passed an FAA reauthorization measure that includes similar language to the Air Traffic Controllers Hiring Act of 2023.